Controversial new legislation has prompted Craigslist to pull its "personals" section from it's website.
The new bill is aimed at stopping sex trafficking on the web, but critics say it will force website operators to censor free speech.
Craigslist says millions of spouses, partners and couples have met through it's "personals" section. But people looking for romance or sex won't be able to find it on Craigslist anymore. Congress passed a law this week which will make website owners like Craigslist liable for illegal activity linked to their sites, and Craigslist isn't taking any chances.
“The bottom line, it makes it so these internet sites, which forever have been hosting these different ads, and are used by the traffickers, you can now sue them,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Dart has claimed for years that classified advertising sites like Craigslist are used by sex traffickers to promote prostitution. Sex traffickers, he says, place the ads and collect the profits, while women and even children are held captive because of their desperate financial situations.
“Many times these women were from foreign countries, more often than not they were local women they were trafficking. They had their claws in them the same way, the women couldn't go anywhere,” Dart said.
Craigslist issued a statement on Friday, saying "Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day."
Another website, Reddit, now says it will forbid transactions involving firearms, drugs and paid services for physical sexual contact.
The bill still needs the signature of President Trump, but the White House has endorsed and Craigslist could clearly see the writing on the wall. and decided the personals had to go.